Well. Not to be Captain Obvious or anything, but this is, you know, really bad.
When I first encountered that headline about 15,000 troops, I was a little bit taken aback. That’s a lot of soldiers. It’s a division, actually. Fifteen full strength battalions. Give that many trained American death techs proper air and armour support, and that’s enough to take a frickin’ hostile city – indeed, when the US Marines were tasked with retaking Fallujah in 2004 against fierce insurgent opposition, a battle that involved the most intense urban combat since the 1968 recapture of Hue City during the Tet Offensive, they needed fewer than 11,000 men to get it done, and boy, did they get it done. The forces deployed to the Capitol will be National Guard units, not the US Marines, and it’s to be hoped there won’t be all sorts of air power and armour thrown in to the fray, but still, c’mon, we’re talking about securing the Presidential inauguration in Washington D.C. here, not wresting a city-sized insurgent stronghold from the steely grip of thousands of entrenched jihadist fanatics determined to fight to the death. Those two situations aren’t supposed to be even remotely similar – the affair next week in Washington is traditionally described as a “peaceful transition of power”, remember? Totally different thing. Arguably, you get right down to it, a “peaceful” transition shouldn’t require much in the way of mechanized infantry at all, but, well, here we are.
Here’s what I’m telling myself: the worst is actually over. True, Donald remains unrepentant, and still occupies his office, which is dangerous, and yes, it’s coming out that in fact, the MAGA maniacs are emboldened by what they perceive, for the moment anyway, to have been a major victory following their assault on the Capitol. Moreover, according to today’s news, plans are definitely in the works to try something like it again.The FBI, keeping tabs on the public electronic chatter as best it can within the law (and thus not in the same way that the NSA monitors communications between ISIS warlords in Asia Minor, a state of affairs that may have to be revisited), has warned that armed assaults might be in the works not just for D.C., but all 50 State capitals. They’ve already started boarding up government buildings in places like Wisconsin. What else can they do? After all that’s happened, we don’t dare dismiss all of this inflammatory rabble rousing and overt insurrectionist scheming as the feckless huffing and puffing of a bunch of frustrated Incel nobodies. They may be led by dingbats in furry man-kinis sporting steer horns, but God knows the various militias and white supremacist gangs that form the hard core of Donald’s imbecilic base have both the manpower and the will, and they sure as shit have the weapons, to be more than a bad joke. No room for doubt remains on that score. So that’s not encouraging.
On the other hand, the Waffen SS these morons ain’t, despite their Nazi regalia. Many (though not all) seem to be organizing like rank amateurs over public, unencrypted internet channels, in full view of law enforcement, and by all appearances most of them aren’t Mensa material. It would be a grave mistake to underestimate them – videos that have since trickled out reveal there was a hard core of frighteningly competent paramilitary thugs moving with deliberate, disciplined precision amid all those fat, bearded slobs last Wednesday – but it bears remembering that the near success of last week’s ultimately botched insurrection was only possible because nobody took them seriously enough, and nobody, despite what now looks to have been ample cause for concern, was mentally or materially prepared. To most, Donald’s farcical protest rally seemed likely to be the usual clown show, and I suspect that nobody in the military chain of command was keen on the optics of thousands of troops standing guard with bayonets fixed, what with the Joint Chiefs being so reluctant to inject the military into the democratic functions of constitutional government (especially after the bad taste left in everybody’s mouth by the brutish repression of peaceful protest in Washington last summer). The Capitol Police said they had it under control, which was highly preferable. Then, when it all went South, neither Donald nor his recently installed bum boys over at the Pentagon were much inclined to exert themselves to do anything about it.
Everything, in short, lined up perfectly to create a fiasco.
Not next time. Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I just don’t see it happening again. Not now that the military and law enforcement had to witness the mob erecting a gallows on the lawn, while thugs stormed throughout the Capitol buildings, looking to lynch Mike Pence, and coming closer, probably, than we yet know to pulling off a scheme to take hostages and live stream the execution of prominent politicians. We’re on to them now, and a lot of what might otherwise happen next week will almost certainly be pre-empted by scores of timely arrests. Hundreds who were there on the 6th have been identified already. If those who aren’t already in custody try to come back for a second try, they’ll be hauled off of buses, nabbed at the train stations, detained at the airports, and rolled up at the rally points they’ve been dumb enough to advertise on their rancid right wing websites. As Inauguration Day approaches, and depending on the intelligence, all concerned will certainly decide that this time, the optics of armed soldiers on station are much better than those created when a mob of crazed fascists has its vile way with the beating heart of American democracy. Force will be met with crushing, overwhelming counter force, if it comes to that.
I’m betting it doesn’t come to that, if for no other reason than they take this advice, offered by Malcom Nance:
Biden probobly doesn’t want to do it that way, but they may leave him no choice.
I guess this will be a sort of acid test. If, despite all the hard lessons learned over the past week, the MAGA maniacs still manage to wreak havoc, we really are in dire straits. It would be like the Japanese coming back in January 1942 to bomb the crap out of Pearl Harbour all over again. It would be a stunning display of MAGA power, and of government weakness and incompetence. It could set off a chain reaction that might see cities all across America set on fire.
I just can’t see it. Not in the cards. No way. It’s a mug’s game, making predictions in these situations, but I’m saying it will not happen. Look, we can at least pretend I’m right, for a while anyway, and thus get the sleep over the next few days that would otherwise elude us.
Which does nothing, of course, to mitigate the terrible sadness of watching things come to this. No matter what happens on Inauguration Day, we may have a longer term problem on our hands, and merely to make it through next week, 15,000 troops are on standby. A full division. Fifteen full strength battalions. Just to swear in the new President, who won a free and fair election in the world’s most important constitutional democracy. A President who will, in fact, do far more to help those who’d depose him than Trump and his GOP buddies ever have, or ever would. It’d break my heart, if it wasn’t already broken.
Post script, 2;20 AM: Having just watched the news shows on the specific threats being tracked, including plans to ring the Capitol with up to 4,000 armed insurgents, gotta say, it’s harder to remain sanguine.